Why does the U.S. have the highest maternal death rate in the affluent world? This year, ProPublica and NPR have been investigating this question through our Lost Mothers series. We’ve explored myriad factors that contribute to the 700 to 900 American women who die each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, as well as the more than 50,000 women annually who suffer life-threatening complications.

As we have continued to dig into this problem, we have focused on the personal stories of affected women and their families. Thousands of people have shared their experiences with us since our initial callout in February, and those stories hold critical lessons for hospitals, regulators and policymakers. Making such experiences visible and transparent — lifting them up not only as individual tragedies, but as part of a public health crisis that endangers all women — remains a vital aspect of this project.

In addition to this tremendous response from families who have lost someone, or narrowly escaped tragedy, we have received numerous emails from people who want to push the conversation further.

Your step-by-step guide to sparking community and change on maternal health.

We’ve heard from expectant mothers seeking more specific advice on finding the best possible provider and preparing for an emergency.

We’ve been contacted by advocates calling for a closer examination of where the health care system is failing women, including the areas of insurance companies and the responsibility of care providers.

We continue to hear from professionals, who are eager to highlight the vital roles of midwives, mental health care services and other providers. Essentially, our readers are looking to engage with this material beyond our stories, and yearning to exchange more of their ideas.

That’s why we’ve created the Lost Mothers Event Toolkit, a step-by-step guide designed to foster local conversation and connection around the U.S. maternal mortality crisis. Exploring these issues in your own community is a powerful tool to raise awareness, create opportunities to exchange perspectives and spark ideas for change.

We encourage interested organizations, health institutions and individuals to host discussions on the most important issues around maternal health in their communities. ProPublica’s toolkit makes it easy to plan a local event, with resources including:

Discussion Questions

We encourage you to communicate what’s most important to you around the issues. Feel free to use these discussion questions as a starting point for your community.

  • Videos you can show at your event

  • Printable handouts

  • Presentation slides and graphs

  • Suggested discussion questions

  • Customizable invitations and flyers

  • Sample social media posts

  • Ideas for locations and speakers

  • Event planning and promotion tips

Our team is also standing by to help you create a high-quality, high-impact event. Ask us any questions you have throughout the planning process at events@propublica.org.

In ProPublica and NPR’s reporting on maternal mortality in the U.S., our reporters identified a lack of awareness and transparency as a contributing factor to the problem. Taking these conversations from private to public, allowing people to connect with one another, is therefore an important aspect of the solution. We hope you’ll join us by bringing the discussion to your community.

Download the Lost Mothers Event Toolkit here.

If you’re interested in hosting an event, fill out this brief form to tell us about what you’re planning.

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